Clay Knob Farms saved from closure with help from donation campaign and proactive financing (2024)

(Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to say that producers for Nat Geo WILD created the fundraising effort, not Dr. Pol.)

A farm in Remus has another lease on life after a GoFundMe page started by TV folks who film and produce a show about a famous television veterinarian, and its owners taking proactive steps to save it.

Dairy farm Clay Knob Farms was nearly closed earlier this year but it will survive thanks to the online fundraiser started by producers for the Nat Geo WILD TV network who work with Dr. Jan-Harm Pol, host of “The Incredible Dr. Pol” and some proactive money management by owners Dale and Phil Lehnert.

“We were being proactive so we were making sure they would not foreclose on us. We were ahead of the game so we’re not in any trouble as far as that goes,” Dale Lehnert said on Thursday.

The GoFundMe page was created in August on behalf of the Lehnert brothers. Pol has been the farm’s veterinarian for 20 years and has featured the farm on his television show.

“They got the GoFundMe page started in August but they didn’t do any action on it until just before Christmas,” Lehnert said.

A video created by Pol and his film crew put on the fundraiser page dramatically increased the exposure for the farm; as of Thursday, $81,242 of the $263,426 goal has been raised.

“That’s when it took off,” Lehnert said.

Donations are able to be kept by campaign, whether or not a goal is reached, according to GoFundMe’s website.

Working with the farm’s loan financier, Isabella Bank and Trust, helped keep it in business.

“We were able to get a hold of the loan officers whenever we needed. If we get in a jam, we can go ahead and get a loan and use it for whatever we needed,” he said.

Even though the farm received help, Lehnert wants people to know their farm isn’t the only one facing potential hardship.

“The way the dairy industry is right now, the outlook is not very good. It would be better to plan ahead so you have a game plan and a good exit,” he said.

Without the farm, local businesses and residents would be worse off.

“Other people work there; we support three to four other families,” Lehnert said.

It has existed for five generations, since 1856, although it did not get its current name until 1972.

Local businesses such as a lumber yard and tractor dealerships work with the farm on a regular basis as well.

“We touch a few lives out there,” he said.

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Clay Knob Farms saved from closure with help from donation campaign and proactive financing (2024)
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